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Most local students vaccinated

Few students in Lodi, Galt still need required whooping cough shot

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Posted: Friday, September 2, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:50 am, Tue Sep 6, 2011.

In Lodi, few students were sent home Thursday for not complying with new immunization requirements set by the state.

It was quite a divergence, since only about 80 percent of students had complied as of Aug. 23, according to Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer.

Students in seventh through 12th grade were required to get a whooping cough booster before starting this school year; however, a 30-day reprieve was given by the state.

Under those guidelines, Lodi Unified School District students had to show proof of receiving the booster before Thursday or be sent home from school. The school year began Aug. 1.

Districtwide compliance rates were unavailable.

In the last week, Tokay High has seen a flurry of activity with students rushing to submit required documentation. As of Tuesday, there were still about 150 outstanding students, but a large number attended a clinic that day and received the required shot, according to Principal Erik Sandstrom.

The number quickly changed and only a dozen of the 2,123 students schoolwide had not complied by the end of the day Wednesday.

Thursday morning, five of those students were waiting in the office for their parents to bring in their immunization records or sign a consent form for the student to have the shot. The school nurse was in the office with needles ready, according to Sandstrom.

The remaining seven were absent.

“Looks like I won’t have to send anyone home (since) absent students without the shot are already not here,” he said, adding that staff was still trying to make contact with absent students’ parents to remind them students can’t come to school today or in the future until they receive the shot.

It was a similar story at Lodi High, where just four students had yet to comply by Thursday morning, according to Principal Bob Lofsted.

Most of these four are chronically absent, he said. “If they were here today, they were called in and sent home.”

At Millswood Middle School, Principal Sheree Flemmer said there were about 65 outstanding students.

In the months leading up to the deadline, area school districts have mailed notices, made phone calls and placed notices in newspapers to get the word out. Families who do not believe in immunizations for religious or personal reasons did not have to comply.

In Galt, students have a couple more weeks to meet the state mandate.

As of the end of the day Wednesday, 90 percent of students in the high school district had complied, as did 86 percent of students in the elementary district.

The latter figure reflects 776 students of the 903 enrolled at McCaffrey Middle School. Included in that count are those students who are compliant through legal exemption, according to Robert Nacario, director of the educational services for the elementary district.

Staff is following up with families of those students by phone and finalizing written communication to be mailed.

“We expect a higher percentage of compliance by Sept. 21,” Nacario said, referring to that district’s deadline.

The district will provide notice to families 10 days prior to Sept. 21 in accordance with board policy in the event that students need to be excluded from attendance, he said.

Colleen Hurley, director of the Galt Joint Union High School District’s special education department, said more proof of students receiving the booster is coming in daily. Health staff there, too, has been contacting families directly.

“When we get very close to the deadline, students will be notified ahead of time that they will not be allowed in school. If they come anyway, they will asked to come to the office (and) parents will be called to come for them,” she said, adding that administrative staff is meeting this week to discuss the issue. “We are making every effort to minimize the number of students impacted by this.”

The state law was passed due to the high number of people diagnosed with pertussis in California last year.

Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease characterized by severe coughing fits. It can be fatal to infants or others who have not received the first shot.

In California last year, doctors reported 8,000 cases.

As of Aug. 10, there have been 2,164 confirmed cases reported to the California Department of Public Health this year, with 17 in San Joaquin County.

Children need five doses of DTaP by kindergarten, between ages 4 and 6, and a booster by age 12. All teens and adults are also recommended to receive boosters.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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